Sylvia Fowles scored 27 points to help the Chicago Sky overcome a 14-point deficit to outlast the Indiana Fever 86-84 in double-overtime on Sept. 1, evening the best-of-3 Eastern Conference finals. The victory was Chicago’s first home playoff win in team history.
Chicago (16-19) has rallied from big deficits in three straight games. The Sky rallied from 14 points down in Game 1 before falling to the Fever (16-19) 77-70. They also beat Atlanta in the decisive Game 3 of the first round after trailing by 20 points.
''We would all love to be the team that pushes out to the lead,'' Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot said. ''But at this point, when it happens, this is playoffs. That's an experienced basketball team over there. We just need to know we've been in this position before and that's one thing that keeps us together. We've done it before and we're just going to keep pushing.''
Fowles overcame early foul trouble and was dominant against the smaller Fever. She was 12-of-14 from the field, grabbed seven rebounds (three on the offensive end) and blocked three three shots. She also had three steals.
However, it was the play of the Sky’s backcourt that proved to be the difference. Vandersloot and 2014 WNBA Sixth Women of the Year Allie Quigley combined for 34 points on 11-for-25 shooting and 10 assists. The Sky also held Fever guard Briann January, who tallied 19 points in Game one, to eight points.
Shavonte Zellous scored 20 points, Tamika Catchings had 16 and Erlana Larkins added 15 for the second-seeded Fever, the 2012 WNBA champions who are trying to reach the finals for the third time in six years.
Epiphanny Prince handed out five assists in the first quarter to help the Sky establish momentum early. Tamera Young and Fowles were the beneficiaries of Prince’s dimes -- Fowles poured in six points in the quarter while Young added four. Indiana led 18-16 after the first quarter.
With Fowles on the bench after picking up her third foul at the 6:24 mark, Indiana extend its lead from six points to 14. However, Quigley nailed two clutch three pointers to keep the Sky within striking distance. Indiana led 38-31 at the break.
In the third quarter, Chicago pounded the ball into Fowles on a consistent basis. Fowles scored 21 of her of her points after halftime.
The Sky went on a 10-0 run, with Vandersloot and Quigley combining for seven of those points, to cut the Fever’s lead to just one point with less than 30 seconds left. Indiana’s Karima Christmas closed the quarter with a three pointer to push the lead out to four, 52-48.
Delle Donne hit a three with 6:15 left in regulation for the Sky's first lead since the first quarter. Catchings hit a jumper from the wing with 11.6 seconds left in regulation to put Indiana up two. On the following possession, Young grabbed Delle Donne’s miss and scored on a put-back layup with one second remaining to tie the game and send it to overtime, 71-71.
Indiana and Chicago traded baskets through the first overtime with Sylvia Fowles and Tamika Catchings providing the bulk of the scoring. Catchings knocked down a jumper to tieit at 79 with 58.1 seconds left. Fowles was called for an offensive foul nine seconds later. After Catchings misfired, she stole the ball from Delle Donne, but January missed a jumper before the buzzer.
Delle Donne’s layup with 1:41 remaining in the second overtime gave the Sky a four point lead. January made two free throws with 12.2 remaining to cut the lead to one before Fowles hit a free throw for the final margin with 8.8 seconds left. Zellous missed a jumper before time expired.
Indiana hosts Game Three on Sept. 3.